17 years ago, Pfizer unveiled a revolutionary new drug that has since transformed the landscape of sexual libido. The blue pill, Viagra, paved the way for a multi billion-dollar industry that even made its way into Hollywood when Sex and the City aired an episode called “The Man, The Myth, The Viagra”. Following the astronomical success of Viagra, drug maker Sprout Pharmaceuticals has recently managed to convince the FDA to approve Flibanserin, marketed as Addyi. Dubbed the ‘Female Viagra’, the pink pill is designed to aid distressed women for their low libido, but is it able to emulate the success of its counterpart?
Addyi was originally tested as an antidepressant but was found to increase female’s sexual interest. Unlike Viagra which directly affects the male genitalia by increasing blood flow, Addyi actually solves a chemical inbalance in a women’s brain in order to heighten their sexual desire. It’s effectiveness however remains questioned as only 8% to 13% of women experienced “much improved” sexual desire. Furthermore, women taking the drug have reported up to two more “satisfying sexual events” each month, that is just one more than the consumption of sugar pills.
Many have said that this low number may not be sufficient enough to bear the potential side effects that could occur. The drug label comes with a boxed warning stating that combining the pill with alcohol could cause mortally dangerous low blood pressure and fainting. Other side effects include drowsiness, dizziness and nausea which can lead to serious injuries. It is cause for concern that the FDA rejected the drug twice in 2010 and 2013 due to these supposed risks.
What caused the FDA to approve the drugs this third time could well be due to a feminists lobbying group called Even the Score which is a coalition of 24 women’s group that highlights 26 drugs for men with sexual dysfunction but zero for women. Even the Score’s campaign for gender equality on the sexual libido front is partly funded by Sprout who seems to have emerged as the biggest winner.
Though Sprout may have attained a favorable verdict by the FDA for Abbyi, the jury is still out regarding its effectiveness and its commercial success. The least that Sprout wants is for the drug to be out in the market only for women to come out and say that it doesn’t work as well as it should.